C.S. Lewis makes a fine point in his essay against a ‘Humanitarian theory of Punishment.’ He argues that unless punishment is tied directly to the objective nature of the crime, extreme abuses are near at hand. For example, by viewing the crime as a symptom of some kind of disease, the perpetrator is subjected to ‘treatment,’ which can go on forever. Not too long ago I read of a man released from an institution who had been there for decades, when the penalty for the crime would have entailed just a year or two of incarceration. Lewis also takes aim at the idea that you should punish someone with an eye towards ‘deterring’ others from committing similar crimes. He points out that the person you punish need not even be guilty of the crime in order to tell everyone else, “This is what you will do if…”
I have a feeling Lewis had in mind the show trials of the communists, but we are seeing the same kind of propaganda today, and its about time we put an end to it. As a case in point, when the Rolling Stone article accusing a whole fraternity of gang raping a girl fell apart, the protests continued. I actually saw it being said, “Well, we know that women are being raped, so even if it wasn’t happening in this case…” What? You’ll proceed to destroy the lives of the people accused, even though they weren’t guilty? Even though the whole thing was entirely fabricated? Seriously? Are you nuts?
I personally think the evidence is good that sexual predation is a real and growing threat, but at the same time, I think it is laughable to think that shaming people–especially innocent ones!–will change this. Every woman with a 9mm pistol in her purse would be more effective. But if we are really concerned about reducing the threat, we should be looking at the rampant hyper-sexualization of this society and the distinct effort to separate sex from reproduction. I’m sorry, but if you plaster naked men and women everywhere you look and have sex acts depicted in vivid, explicit terms, even to children, do you really expect a healthy respect for sexuality to emerge? Obviously, the insistence by certain people to continue to press for graphically intense sex education classes in schools everywhere, the answer is yes. I’m using this as an example of a larger pattern: fanning the flames of rage is easy, but actually resolving an issue is hard. Actually resolving an issue might require facing up to unpleasant realities that fly in the face of what we wish were otherwise.
In the case of sexual predation, that would mean considering such notions like, “maybe there is something to that whole traditional marriage thing…” and it certainly would throw cold water on the sentiment, “What I want most in life is to have sex, as much as I want, in any form that I want, without any consequences whatsoever. More pleasure please! Me! Me! Me!”
If you think people are just beasts who cannot resist humping each other if they are in heat, certain things follow. You wouldn’t dream of trying to tell people to control themselves, or confine their sexual behaviors to institutions where they are self-regulated. All you would do is try to minimize the damages of their animalistic instincts. And you wouldn’t have a problem with shaming innocent people, because you think people need to be conditioned just the way we do with other animals, just like Pavlov’s dog. If you wish to condition people, you need Conditioners.
Which leads me to the recent case where another black person was killed by a white cop.
What made the killing of Walter Scott different than the killing of Michael Brown? The video, of course, but not for the reason you think.
In the case of Brown, we quickly had in hand forensic information that was entirely consistent with the testimony of the police officer, Darren Wilson. Witness accounts largely supported Wilson, too. Just one person, quickly deemed unreliable by all the folks who were in a position to know, fueled the “Hands up, don’t shoot!” hysteria. As with the Rolling Stone college rape story, people continued to justify using the slogan on the basis that black people are being oppressed, somewhere. Honest. Using a hyper-inflated known deception to promote a ‘truth’ makes for great propaganda–and that is what it is–but it suggests that there isn’t much basis in reality to that ‘truth.’ The fact that an innocent man, in this case Darren Wilson, is destroyed and slandered? Bonus. He is, after all, white. If he’s not guilty of this, he’s guilty of something!
An article that I saw today attempts to use the killing of Walter Scott to justify the rage:
Imagine the narrative that might have emerged if the bystander, a man named Feidin Santana, hadn’t happened along. A violent suspect struggled with Officer Slager, wrested control of the officer’s Taser and threatened him with it. Fearful of his own safety and that of the community, Slager had no choice but to fire. The officer regrets the loss of Mr. Scott’s life but did what he had to do.
After Ferguson, such an account might not have been taken at face value — especially, I should note, in South Carolina, which has been much more aggressive in holding police officers accountable for fatal shootings. The most basic forensic examination would have shown that Scott was some distance from Slager — and fleeing — when he was shot. Investigators from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division likely would have been skeptical of any claim that the officer feared for his life.
But what could anyone prove?
Eugene Robinson here admits explicitly that the “most basic forensic examination would have shown that Scott was some distance from Slager — and fleeing — when he was shot.” In other words, video or not, Ferguson or not, no such narrative would have sprung up, because the evidence on the scene was flatly in contradiction to what the police officer said.
In point of fact, the video provided by Santana actually does not support the hysteria expressed in the phrase “black lives matter” because the video makes it absolutely clear, even to a Twitter generation, what happened. There is no way for Sharpton, Jackson, Holder, or Obama to enrage people further than is appropriate in the Scott case. Even if the forensics had not supported Wilson’s account, but we had a video which proved Wilson had lied, Ferguson would not have been torched. Why? Because the video removes the air from the rage-room. Indeed, with just a few exceptions, if you look carefully, nearly all of the major bouts of social lynching that have occurred did so when no video was present.
In a society that is ill-equipped to allow mere words to shape their conception of reality, the screen becomes Holy Writ.
But if the whole ‘black lives matter’ thing is an expression of propaganda, what is it propaganda for? Agitator Al Sharpton let the cat out of the bag recently:
“There must be national policy and national law on policing,” Sharpton said. “We intend to come out of this convention [and go] from state to state dealing with the need of having a nationalized, Justice Department-assigned law to deal with how policing is appropriate.”
Ah, yes. Because when the Feds take charge of something, things finally get shaped up! I couldn’t help thinking of the recent scandal in Tomah, WI or the case not too long ago where vets died while waiting for care because bureaucrats wanted to spiff up their ‘efficiency’ rates at the VA hospital in Phoenix, AZ. Honestly, if we cannot properly care for our heroes who put their lives on the line for this country, why does anyone think the rest of us stand a chance? Yes, that’s just what we need! More national policies! (In the above article, Sharpton also advocates for body-cams for police officers. While I doubt very much that he really want to undermine his own efforts to enrage people, the ability to bring Federal funding into the matter, with all the ways that this allows the Feds to control things it otherwise couldn’t touch, is probably seen as making it worth it.)
The basic upshot of the entire propaganda endeavor in all these cases is to nationalize and Federalize, and ultimately, Internationalize, them. In this quest, it doesn’t matter if people are punished for things they didn’t commit. The ends justify the means. It is a conditioning process implemented by people who view their fellow man as beasts to be managed, trained, and yes, even culled.
When the Ferguson thing first happened, I took issue with all the complaints about their police department not reflecting the racial diversity of their community. I pointed out that the power to resolve such things was firmly in their hands. Here is a quote:
That’s what liberalism does: it puts self-rule as far out of reach of the average person as it can–after all, the average person is not too bright, stupid in fact, and is not able to make decisions for themselves. Indeed, not only do people not make decisions that are in their own self-interest, but they will resist efforts to help them along. That’s how stupid people are–according to liberalism. Which is why liberals constantly ‘kick’ as much up to ever higher levels of government. Your local town can’t be trusted to manage itself, that’s why the state should be in charge. The state can’t hack it, that’s why the Feds need to be in charge. (The Ferguson story seems to embody each of these elements.) Why do you think so many issues are falling under the purview of the United Nations? It’s because even nations can’t be trusted to manage their own affairs; experts are needed.
I was genuinely pleased to see that two black people were recently elected to their town board, because I also argued:
Instead of resorting to jack-booted tactics, the ‘oppressed’ in Ferguson should wise up, grow up, and run for office. It really is within their power to do so. […]
The guilt or innocence of the officer or the young man slain is totally irrelevant. If you think one is guilty and the other innocent or vice versa, your solution is the same: self-governance. Best get to it, while we still can.
But as Sharpton as revealed, self-governance is the last thing that these people want to see happening.
The Eugene Robinson piece I linked to above is titled, “A misdemeanor becomes a capital offense — again.” In his quest to fan the racial flames, he insists on using the Scott case as his leaping off point. That’s the easy thing to do. The hard thing to do would be to deal with the true underlying problem, which is reflected in the title of piece, but not in the article. The emergence of a hardened, fortified, ruthless police state that targets everyone is near at hand, which I argue in a post titled, “Eric Garner Protests Will Certainly Miss the Real Issue: Our Impending Enslavement.” I write:
What about the continuing erosion of all of our freedoms as governments at all levels steadily criminalize even the tiniest behaviors and enforce laws with extreme heavy-handedness? Ladies and gentlemen, this twofold problem concerns every American, not just the black ones.
Remember, Garner was being apprehended for… selling cigarettes.
But why is the police state becoming established, with liberties constantly being stripped away? Because certain people do not believe that people in general are capable of self-rule. From vaccination to raw milk, to tobacco use to sexuality, we are seen as a herd to be managed.
These same people tend to think that black people in particular are not capable of self-rule. That’s why for forty years, instead of empowering black America to manage their own affairs, locally, they have sought to Federalize and nationalize every issue. Remember, blacks tend to live in areas where they are the vast majority. The reins of power are near at hand, if only they sought them out. But this would not help the Democrat party, would it? The whole idea of self-rule, and by that I don’t just mean in a local society, but also in the sense of having enough self-control to keep your pants on, is Republican in nature. The idea that you are competent enough to manage your own affairs is basically a conservative one, whereas liberals tend to think that you are helpless, subject to your own animalistic behaviors and at the mercy of circumstances outside your control. This is why they wish to put even more things outside your control, “for your own good.”
I am frankly out of patience for all this crap about black people (and women) being discriminated against by white, Christian, men. Black people (and women) are being discriminated against, but it isn’t by white Republicans. It is by liberals, progressives, and secular humanists, who believe that they are smarter and more capable than everyone else. It is not a discrimination fueled by hatred, it is a discrimination based on soft bigotry and paternalism. And it disgusts me.
One of the clearest expressions of this bigotry and the hypocrisy involved, it is in the high abortion rates among black women. Black lives matter, you say? Is it really just an accident that in every place you look, black women are getting abortions at a higher proportion than whites? For example, in Wisconsin, where I live, blacks get a quarter of all the abortions, but they make up only about 6% of the population. According to the liberal rationale for abortion on demand, abortion is supposed to be a service to those in poverty, allowing them to rise above their circumstances. In forty years of going out of their way to make sure that blacks have access to abortions, and clear evidence that they are taking advantage of those ‘services’ at a much higher rate than the population, is there any evidence whatsoever that blacks are substantially better off?
It is not conservatives that brought us abortion on demand. It is not Republicans that are in charge in these areas. It is not white Christian males calling for tax payer dollars to be used to pay for abortions. It is not any of these setting up abortion clinics predominantly in urban areas. Who brought us the destruction of the black family through the welfare state that rendered the black male (ie, the father) irrelevant? Wasn’t my side.
That’s because white Christian male conservative Republicans believe that people–all people–are made in the image of God and are therefore able and competent to control themselves, control their sexual behaviors, act responsibly, endure the consequences of their own decisions, and build lives for themselves. We do not believe that people are beasts, or a herd to be managed.
If you really believed that ‘black lives mattered’ you would take a hard look at why black lives are being aborted at disproportionately high numbers. Instead of Federalizing everything, you would encourage people to take responsibility for their own actions, instead of trying to protect people from various destructive behaviors, ie, distributing condoms instead of strengthening the institution of the family or encouraging people to burn down their own neighborhoods rather than getting elected and hiring more black cops–if you think the race of the cop is the actual source of the problem. Stop the propaganda, and stop listening to propaganda. Man up. Grow up. Mind your own damn business.
Stop lunging from outrage to outrage, which is easy and requires nothing from you except to feel, and set yourself to the hard matter of finding real solutions.
Why should the vast majority of the population, which is innocent, be made to pay for the crimes of the few, by removing everyone’s freedoms and liberties just so you can feel better?